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  Author    Soulshadows II: Riches  (currently 4268 views)
Don
Posted: October 12th, 2009, 5:16pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Soulshadows II: Riches by Stephen Brown (stebrown) (Tanis by Robert Newcomer) - Series, Supernatural - Charlie Bloom vowed never to gamble again after taking the money from the family's savings account but when a mysterious coin comes into his possession can he stick to his word? - pdf, format

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Don  -  October 12th, 2009, 6:39pm
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Dreamscale
Posted: October 12th, 2009, 7:40pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Ste, long time, bud, hope all is well.

I started reading this and immediately got the feeling that I’d read it before.  When I finished, I checked my deleted E-mails and found that you did indeed send me a synopsis and scene listing, so I kind of laughed and was happy that I wasn’t losing it completely.  I also read my comments I gave you back in July, and I still feel the same way, basically.

I think the main issues here, IMO, are twofold:  story/premise is underdeveloped, and characters are also underdeveloped.  At 25 pages, I wasn’t sure at first how either could be, but I think I’ve got it figured out now.  Here’s what I think…

It’s basically ½ way into the script before we even get into the story, and that means you’ve only got about 11 pages after that to work your story and characters.  I don’t think it’s enough in this case.

A bigger issue is the way you chose to “write” this.  You used an awful lot of 1 line passages, meaning there are an awful lot of blank lines after only 1 line of text.  Also a lot of passages that barely spilled onto the next line, meaning they’re basically 1 line passages that actually take up 2 lines, and then a blank line. It read really fast, but I think that’s because there’s not a lot of actual text.

I didn’t feel like I knew much about anyone and because of that, I really didn’t feel connected to any of them, nor was I routing for them, or overly concerned with their demise.  No one felt overly unique or even interesting, and that’s an issue for sure.

As I said originally, I think that the coin’s “curse” doesn’t really tie into its winning ways.  What I mean is that in order for the premise to work, I think every time the coin’s owner wins with it, something bad has to happen almost immediately, so we “see” that there are consequences when the owner “uses” it.  Bad things seem to happen rather randomly, and not all the time, and for me, that’s an issue, as I don’t even think that Charlie, or anyone else, would even tie the death of his friend or the fire to the coin and it’s abilities.

Another issue was with the setup, It appears that Charlie lost all this money and was basically kicked out of the house.  I would have to assume that means he lost quite a bit of cash for it to be such an issue.  Although he could easily win any amount back, based on the coin, but by just handing over a wad of cash to Em, it doesn’t seem possible that it could be that much money.  And on top of this, it would imply that Charlie has been gambling quite a bit and winning every time, which ties back into what I said about the consequences, which don’t seem to be occurring on a regular basis.

It would be far more interesting a script if we saw what happened each time he won.  Maybe start off slowly with small things going wrong after a win, and then increase the consequences each time.  That way, it would be a struggle for Charlie, and he’d have to make a choice…is it worth it to “win” a bet?  How much do you “pay” to gain riches?  What is the level of acceptability, and where do you draw the line?

As I said originally, I do like the idea here and feel it could be a strong and compelling script.  It’s not a new idea and feels like a modern day retelling of “The Monkey’s Paw”, or any of the hundred or so spinoffs of that theme.  I’m not saying that’s such a bad thing, but based on the way it’s handled here, I just don’t think it works the way it could…or should.

Hope that helps, Mate, and sorry for not being more positive.  I do think this could be something special though…I just think it needs some more work to get there.


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steven8
Posted: October 13th, 2009, 3:09am Report to Moderator
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Hi Ste,

I remember reading an early draft of yours for this (or maybe a rough idea), and it opened in a cemetery, where our lead character received the coin.  If I recall right, that opening made him aware that the coin both gave and took away from it's users.  I think that is what's lacking in this version.  I believe it would draw the viewers in more if it were made clear up front to Charlie that this coin is to be used at great risk, and he STILL made the decision to do it.

Perhaps something as simple as having the drunk say that the coin had not only given him everything he wanted, but taken away everything he loved.

Charlie could put that off as the raving of a drunken man, then find him dead with the picture in his hands, and plant the seed of fear in the back of his mind.  it would be there, right below the surface as he weighed the idea of fighting his gambling urge, and need to win back his son and wife, against the the drunk said.

I believe it would add so much more to the tail.  

It is written just fine.  Pretty clear and concise, with natural dialog.  The exchanges with his wife and son were very good.  The pacing was fine, but it lacked in the tension department.  I think you were trying to build that with the line by line description on the fruit machine segment, but without the seed of doubt in the back of his mind, and some sweat on his brow, I think it didn't carry the weight that you hoped.

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stebrown
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First off, thanks to Don, Michael and the people at IScript. I thought they did really well with it. Secondly, thanks to Bert for Tanis.

Jeff

Thanks for the read and your advice.


Quoted from Dreamscale


A bigger issue is the way you chose to �write� this.  You used an awful lot of 1 line passages, meaning there are an awful lot of blank lines after only 1 line of text.  Also a lot of passages that barely spilled onto the next line, meaning they�re basically 1 line passages that actually take up 2 lines, and then a blank line. It read really fast, but I think that�s because there�s not a lot of actual text.



I don't really follow you about this. A screenplay is supposed to be as bare bones as possible, yeah?
I don't see how it can be a problem that some descriptions are only 1 or 2 lines. If the description is one shot it should be one paragraph. I haven't changed anything really to do with how I wrote this so I'm not too sure what you mean.


Quoted from Dreamscale


As I said originally, I think that the coin�s �curse� doesn�t really tie into its winning ways.  What I mean is that in order for the premise to work, I think every time the coin�s owner wins with it, something bad has to happen almost immediately, so we �see� that there are consequences when the owner �uses� it.  Bad things seem to happen rather randomly, and not all the time, and for me, that�s an issue, as I don�t even think that Charlie, or anyone else, would even tie the death of his friend or the fire to the coin and it�s abilities.



Totally agree with you there. Originally, I was going to have bad things happening every time he wins a bet. The problems I had with that though was thinking of bad things and people for those bad things to happen to. I was trying to think of an accident involving Emily after Charlie wins on the bandit but couldn't think of anything that seemed realistic. Also, I was going to throw in a sick mother who would die, maybe another character too, but for any of that to matter I would have to develop those characters. For a 25 page script I was worried about having too many characters.


Quoted from Dreamscale


Hope that helps, Mate, and sorry for not being more positive.



No worries fella, you're just giving your opinion and I appreciate it.

Thanks again.


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stebrown
Posted: October 14th, 2009, 6:14pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks for the read Steven.


Quoted from steven8


Perhaps something as simple as having the drunk say that the coin had not only given him everything he wanted, but taken away everything he loved.



That was one of my main doubts about the scipt. Should I make Charlie aware of the dangers from the start. I decided to go for the option of allowing the audience/reader to know the dangers but Charlie being ignorant of them. Therefore setting Charlie up for a fall that we all see coming. I'm still unsure as to which would work better but I take your opinion on board.

Cheers for checking it out.


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Dreamscale
Posted: October 14th, 2009, 6:51pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Ste, for some reason, I'm unable to open your script up now, so I can't verify anything, but I wanted to try and explain what I meant about there not being much text...

I was referring to why I felt that the characters and story were undeveloped.  You've got roughly 25 pages here I think, and only 5 real characters, meaning that one would think you've got more than enough room to fully develop the characters and story.

I'm not saying in any way that what you've done is incorrect or wrong, but I bet if you do a word count, you'll find that you're average is quite low, on a page by page basis, meaning that although it's 25 pages, it reads and plays out more like it's 20 or so. And with the Tanis parts, it's probably closer to 15 or so.

I agree 100% that scripts should be bare bones, etc., but in a short, you've got to utilize your pages as efficiently as possible, because you only have so many to work with.

Obviously, word count varies greatly, based on writing style, amount of action/description lines, dialogue (especially how long the dialogue lines are), and many other things.  I doubt there’s a “norm” out there, but I think you should probably average around 200 words per page, when you look at the entire script.  I did a quick check and looked at a few scripts, and found word counts per page from a low of 165 to a high of 320, but the majority fell into the 175-225 range.

Check yours out and see if I’m right.  Maybe I’m way off base here.  Should be interesting at least.

See ya.


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stebrown
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Cheers Jeff.

Just taken another look at the script and worked out the average word count per page and it's just over 181.


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Dreamscale
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That's cool, Ste, Guess it's not as low as I thought, which kinda blows my theory, huh?

Not sure what the deal is then.  Maybe it's just that the opening scene played too long and took up too much room.

Take care.


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alffy
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Hey Ste, got to this tonight as the misses is watching X-factor lol.

I've got to second Jeff's thoughts sbout the slow beginning.  If this were a feature I'd see no problem but set up is tadge long for a short.  I liked the opening and shortening it could take away from Charlie's 'down on his luck' background, touch one really.

There was a real chemistry between Charlie and his son and the pain of not being there for him came across.

I thought Charlies decision to make the ulimate sacrifice was made a little too quickly.

Overall, I liked the story but I think it suffered from the page limit.  Charlie was a believable character and his remorse for his wrong doings seemed genuine, I thought there might have been a bit more about the background of the coin but again I think there wasn't really time for this.  I did like the ending, a little chilling thought that Daniel was now in possesion of the coin.

Oh and noticed you dropped in the Newcastle shirt, nice touch lol.


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Niles_Crane
Posted: October 18th, 2009, 2:35am Report to Moderator
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Hi Ste

As promised...

#I felt that the intro was a little too long - I know that the format demands an intro by Tanis, but it seems to take ages to get to the point! We have a page of her tossing a coin - so over a minute of screen time probably!

# Tire is the US spelling.

# The opening scene in the car with Daniel and Charlie is very Hollywood - even down to the hair ruffling!

# I didn't get any sense of where we are. America? Newcastle? While I know some writers dislike being too specific as it may all get rewritten/relocated anyway, I felt that this was set no where - it's not just the fact that you don't describe your locations much - the speech patterns are bland, and don't sound like they are from anywhere! The use of "Mam" in this respect jarred - it sounds very Northern, and yet nothing else suggested this.

# Having now reached page seven, I am wondering when the story will begin. As a horror/supernatural story, this needs to move a bit faster. There is no sense that this is anything other than a domestic drama. This may be intentional, as obviously, it will help ground the supernatural element later, but it also risks losing the interest of the viewer.

Cutting to the house during the pub scene seemed particularly pointless here. I realise it is so you can return to the pub at a different time. A better way to have done this would have been to have a close up of the TV football game, and a time dissolve - indicated by the scoreline.

# The drunk sobered up pretty quickly - maybe it would have been better if he had not been quite so smashed in the earlier scene, as it didn't seem likely he'd even be conscious by the end of the day let alone able to talk like this!

# Wouldn't this pub have some other staff other than just Charlie? It struck me as odd that he closed up on his own.

# I couldn't see a Policeman smiling at Charlie, given the circumstances. Maybe bored indifference would have worked better! Or have him a youngster who has never done it before, and is nervous?

# Having him find the pound coin on the floor just confused things for me - I had to re-read it to understand that he wasn't putting the magic coin in the machine. This scene is probably a bit too over described all round actually.

# There's a bit at the scene at Newcastle FC that confused me too - it seems to suggest, the way it is written, that there is a bookies in the ground! I assume that it is on the corner, near the stadium?

The use of EXT here is a problem all round - technically, although they are outside while sitting in the ground, it is still an INT I think (I may be wrong) - using EXT suggests to me that they are outside the ground altogether! Perhaps INT/EXT?

# The way the coin works is inconsistent. When Charlie won on the slot machine he didn't get any comeback, when he won on the horses, Sam is run over almost immediately (which I assumed to be karma for the win?), when he won on the game, again nothing seemed to happen. The next time we have the linked payback is when the coin works in the Casino. Really, some kind of karma is needed everytime or it just seems odd.

# Why does the Dealer smile to himself when Charlie wins? And why does Charlie have a "lewd" expression on his face?!

# The scene with the Nurse and her reaction seemed out of place - what was it's purpose?

I felt that, overall, this was an interesting - if not new - idea. But the script needed tightening up, as it takes too long to get going, and some inconsistencies need addressing.

If there is a karmic payback everytime Charlie wins, then it would reinforce the point of the story. And if Charlie doesn't care when it happens to others, and then it happens to his family he realises the price the coin requires, that would work better, I think.

I'd also suggest that Emily should die and Daniel alone be fighting for his life (I'd also drop the burns magically healing). If the coin dropped unnoticed, and then Charlie kills himself, out of guilt, the Nurse whose appearance is so out of place, could serve a purpose by finding the coin and placing it beside the now recovering Daniel!

As I say, this is a nice little idea, but I just felt that it needed some work to make it come across better. Oh, and I would have put in a lot more local colour too - don't be afraid to use Geordie dialect and mention Newcastle FC by name!

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stebrown
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Thanks for the reads Alffy and Niles.

Alffy.

Yeah, I think this needs to be extended really. As I said earlier to Jeff, I was really wanting to have some more characters, pretty much so there can be a consequence every time Charlie wins. I think the only way to get that right is to extend this by at least 10 pages and if I then tightened it up a bit too I should have enough room to work around.

Niles

I'll just go through each point in turn.

Tanis is written by Bert, hence the american spelling of tire. Personally, I like the format of the introduction then summary.

I know what you mean about the scene in the car and I made several notes myself that I didn't get round to amending the script from. One of the notes was to sort out some of the dialogue between Charlie and Dan in the car.

I probably should have made this more local but I'm always a bit wary of using local slang and specific locations. 'Mam' stood out for me when listening to the IScript as sounding odd and out of place. The dialogue itself, with good actors, can be brought to life and would allow them to put in their accents etc.

I was intentionally going for a slowish start that would speed up once he gets the coin. I agree though that, unless I'm extending this, I need to get into the story a little earlier.

Cutting to the house was another of my notes. Originally I had it so I could go back later, after Charlie wins on the fruit machine, to show an accident that it caused. I couldn't think of an accident so I didn't use it in the end. I still kept it in just to show the inside of the house and to show time passing.

The drunk had a particular voice and way of speaking in my head. He is still smashed by the end, but the kind of smashed where you've drank yourself sober.

A few of my friends have worked in pubs and they work alone most weekdays, simply because it's quiet. Might be a location thing, but it's quite common to only have one member of staff in a bar.

Yeah, maybe there shouldn't have been a smile. Was just supposed to suggest that the policeman was a bit embarrased about giving Charlie the card.

Yeah, noted, the fruit machine scene is overwritten a bit. The fact that he finds the pound coin is the start of the luck, but yeah I can see how it could be confusing.

There are bookies in football stadiums. At St James Park, it is right in front of the turnstile that I go through. The INT/EXT thing was something I was wondering about too. Wonder if anyone has any examples of other scripts that take place in a football stadium to compare. I presumed EXT simply because it was outside.

The dealer smiles to himself because I imagine it is very rare for anyone to bet on zero, even rarer for that person to win. The lewd expression is because he's getting drunker and drunker and he's testing his 'luck', kind of like testing whatever it is that's controlling it. He wants to lose.

The scene with the nurse was to make Charlie drop the coin. I was pretty stuck with thinking of a reason for Charlie to simply take the coin out of his pocket and look at it. Being disturbed and getting his handkerchief was what I decided on.

This was a difficult script to write to be honest. Firstly, because I haven't really written anything for a while. Secondly, the premise was a little muddy. I think if I come back to this after these suggestions I should have a clearer idea of what works and what doesn't.

Thanks again.



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Niles_Crane
Posted: October 18th, 2009, 4:10am Report to Moderator
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bookies in football stadiums!

You learn something new every day!

In another SoulShadows I discovered that Americans apparently bury people minus their kecks!

You may possibly guess that I am not a footie fan - and I am also teetotal (and have been all my life), so my experience of pubs is limited too!

I would stand by my comments regarding the Tanis opening, but apologies as I didn't realise you didn't write this bit.
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alffy
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I was going to mention the INT/EXT stadium thing but I wasn't sure which was right?  As for writing in local accents, I think it's fine and would be beneficial as the story is set in Newcastle...isn't it?  It would make it more realistic.


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Niles_Crane
Posted: October 18th, 2009, 5:12am Report to Moderator
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Anyone know where we can pick up some sports scripts and see how they write stadium scenes!
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tonkatough
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Hmm. This one felt way to domestic for a Soulshadow entry.

Nicely written and like a lot of your works Stebrown it was played out low key with out any real dramatic flare, thrills and spills or intensity.

Even the supernatural ending was just a rehash of the Jesus/Saviour sacrafice element.

But as a drama about the perils of gambling and how it ruins marriages, I thought this was very well done and realistic.


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